The X-Men Episode Guide 2×02: Til Death Do Us Part, Part Two
The early ’90s were spoiled for choice when it came to comic book adaptations. Not only was Batman: The Animated Series on the air, but X-Men led Marvel’s push to get on the small screen, diving right into the often convoluted continuity of everyone’s favorite mutants, luring in a generation of fans, and paving the way for cartoons to follow. That’s why we’ve set out to review every single episode of the ’90s X-Men animated series. This week: “Til Death Do Us Part, Two,” in which we find out how far Cyclops is willing to go to battle evil. It's like... 10 feet.
Previously, on X-Men:
Season 2 kicked off with not one problem, but two: The Graydon Creed and the Friends of Humanity stirring up anti-mutant sentiments among the public, and Mr. Sinister using Morph to divide the X-Men and take Gambit to new heights (lows) of pure sketchiness. The final standings after all the meddling: Jubilee was captured by the FOH, Storm was arrested, Rogue couldn't touch anything without blowing it up, Gambit was comatose from trying to molest Rogue in her sleep, Professor X was on his way to Antarctica, and Cyclops and Jean were on their honeymoon. Wolverine remained crabby as always.
In our discussion of 1992's breakout cartoon stars, Harley Quinn and Morph, there were some interesting arguments on all sides that sparked a pretty rousing debate. Unfortunately, a few of you decided to go with the "um, actually" and "you forgot" routes, so I'm throwing the whole thing out this week. I expect better next time.
Speaking of expecting better, let's get on with "Til Death Do Us Part, Part Two" by writer Michael Edens and supervising producer Scott Thomas!
We open not on the X-Men dealing with their various troubles, but on Cyclops and Jean arriving to their honeymoon destination, an uninhabited tropical island. Now, I don't want to go too deep into non-animated series continuity here or anything, but considering that this show is dedicated to bringing you the X-Men of the '90s, you'd think a tropical island is the exact last place that Cyclops would be comfortable honeymooning. If his track record with those things holds up, then best case -- best case -- we're looking at shipwreck, and worst case, that thing's actually a gigantic living land mass that wants to kill him and then make his secret third brother an evil space emperor.
But, you know, you get a good deal on Priceline, you book the trip. I know how it goes.
At the X-Mansion, Beast is still trapped in the Danger Room, which has been locked from the outside and set to "liquefy," but that actually doesn't seem to present a problem at all. Outside, Morph -- who was hanging around this place for half of last week's episode -- suddenly goes "oh hey, the X-Mansion. I used to live here!" as though it's his first time seeing it. Time for a pep talk... of eeeeeevil.
Mr. Sinister, having just reapplied his ultra-gothick black lipstick, shows up to make sure that Morph doesn't drop the ball on this whole "evil lackey" thing that he's got going on. Morph mentions that the X-Men have all been taken care of except two that he "sent away," which means that he's the one who arranged their honeymoon. And was also the priest at their wedding.
I've never been married -- but I do have a growing collection of Kamen Rider action figures that makes me a pretty hot prospect, ladies -- so I'll defer to you guys on this one: Is is normal for your minister to make your travel arrangements? Either way, Scott and Jean are getting into some pretty heavy makeouts on their church-approved sailboat, when they're hailed by someone on the shore of the allegedly uninhabited island:
Oh hey, it's Jem! This episode just got truly, truly, truly outrageous!
Jem tells them that she has a message for them, and Scott walks right into the setup by telling him to go ahead, because of course he does. Thus, Jem yells at them loud enough to create the show's favorite special effect of Sonic the Hedgehog rings, capsizing the boat and putting an end to any heavy petting that may have been going on.
Show's over, Synergy.
A few more bad guys show up and it turns out that they're not the gender-swapped Holograms at all. They are, in fact The Nasty Boys, a team of miscreants employed by Sinister who are presumably not to be confused with the tag team of the same name. They attack, and Cyclops manages to get half a sentence of smack talking out of the way before he's knocked out cold, leaving Jean to fend for herself. Jean, you may recall, has done exactly zero things on the show thus far, and the camera doesn't even bother to linger on her glowing forehead before Sinister orders the Nasty Boys to slap a set of Genoshan inhibitor collars on them.
While Sinister is ramping up the show's BDSM subtext by roughly eight million percent, Beast and Rogue head to the hospital to break Storm out of police custody. Rogue is so upset by the sight of her friend sleeping peacefully in a hospital bed that she starts shouting about how Beast wasn't there to back them up. This starts an argument over whether Beast was even told about the mission (he wasn't; it was more of Morph's meddling), which attracts the cops, and Rogue and Beast end up bailing out, leaving Storm to her fate. It's another pretty amazing example of just how awful the X-Men are at being superheroes, but at this point, I'm actually starting to find it comforting.
Meanwhile, at theater across town, Graydon Creed is holding a rally for the Friends of Humanity, and he's offering up Jubilee to a bloodthisty crowd who demand to see her dead.
Jubilee and Creed have the classic "What'd we ever do to you?" "You... were... borrrrnnnnn" exchange that's exactly what you want to see from this stuff.
The guards cart Jubilee away to wherever they go to execute mutants, but before they can, Wolverine busts through the window, cuts through their banner with his claws like he's a pirate sliding down a sail, and then starts chopping up guns and throwing racists around to cover their escape. And you wonder why I prefer him to Cyclops.
At the mansion, Rogue and Beast's argument continues until it wakes Gambit from his sketchiness-induced coma, but that just adds to the tension when he starts complaining about how Rogue tricked him into making out with her while she was asleep. Apparently, it took a lot out of him, too, because his accent is hovering somewhere between Pepe Le Pew and Speedy Gonzales.
Rogue remains a solid Foghorn Leghorn for the duration.
As they're arguing, Professor X rolls in and announces that the team has been the target of a "neural disruptor," a weapon that causes people to behave in "strange, irrational ways." No word on whether it's sold by the bottle, or has any bearing on Wolverine's habit of wandering around asking "hey... hey... hey... hey... you think yer better'n me?"
Speaking of Wolverine, he walks in and immediately sniffs out that Professor X isn't the Professor at all. It is, of course, Morph, but the rest of the team isn't so quick to believe one of their friends has made a miraculous return from the dead -- I assume that in the world of the cartoon, this has only happened three or four times -- and so they opt to go for the whole "Neural Disruptor" theory.
Until, that is, Professor X gives them the very out-of-character order to "destroy them." Wolverine, who has seen a lot of spinals, Dude, and believes that this guy's a f**king goldbricker, throws X out of his wheelchair and Gambit drops an explosive card on the floor just to see what happens.
And unlike Walter, they're right.
Finally, Morph has been revealed, and while he tries to distract the team with a grenade, the mansion goes into lockdown and Wolverine confronts him in the hangar. Wolverine, who once chopped the roof off of Cyclops's car because he was so pissed off that Scott made the call to leave Morph behind, attempts to argue that it actually was the right call. As you might expect, he doesn't do a very convincing job.
Morph turns himself into Wolverine just as Jubilee shows up, and there's a great bit where one of the Wolverines tells her to blast both of them because it's the only way to be sure, and Jubilee knocks the other Wolverine since she's convinced that only the real one would be willing to sacrifice himself to her weird little fireworks. Turns out, it was Morph playing her, because Wolverine ain't got time for that. It's a fantastic little inversion of the old cliché (which, I suppose, is now just as much of a cliche in its own right), and it really works well with these two characters.
Morph escapes in the Blackbird and heads off to take out "the X-Man he has the most reason to hate," which brings us back to Cyclops, Jean, and Mr. Sinister.
So, you know how Mr. Sinister is kind of ludicrously complex and has this weird connection to Scott and Jean and all their time-traveling spawn that doesn't really make a whole lot of sense unless you sit down and hit it with a hammer for a few days to make it work? Well, try cramming a reasonable version of that into a twenty-second monologue and you've got a pretty good idea of how this scene goes. The short version is that he wants to control Cyclops and Jean and make sure that he can also control their kids, so instead of letting them have a nice uninterrupted honeymoon where they'd basically do nothing but have sex with each other because this is the first time they've been away from a school where they were under constant supervision by a guy who could read their minds, he tied them down to separate tables with their pants on.
It's not a great plan.
There is, however, one really cool part of this scene: When Sinister is explaining how he's watched Scott and Jean since they were kids, there's a little flashback to the early days of the X-Men (specifically 1967's X-Men #29) where Cyclops is fighting the Super-Adaptoid:
Quick sidenote on the Super-Adaptoid: If you ever build a robot with pieces of the Avengers, maybe give it the boots of the guy who has boot-jets, and not the guy who just has interesting fringe.
Rather than letting nature take its course (a course that, for these two, involves time travel, techno-organic viruses and The Rob), Sinister decides to just go ahead and harvest their DNA and get things done himself. To that end, he summons up a tentacle (with teeth) made out of plants and waves it menacingly at them.
I guess... that's... his power?
While Mr. Sinister is harvesting Scott and Jean's "genetic material" through a tentacle, which is exactly what is going on here, no subtext required, Morph shows up with designs on killing his former teammates once and for all. He wanders into the cave where Sinister's keeping Scott and Jean and, in what might be the flat-out weirdest moment of the series, starts gloating about how they're not actually married because he was only pretending to be the priest! This is insane. But to be fair, I do think that Cyclops is the kind of person who would be absolutely tortured by the knowledge that all the paperwork he did to get that marriage license was no longer valid.
Before Morph can shoot Cyclops, Sinister walks back into the room and we get a recap of how he just happened to be hanging out at the Mutant Registry Office when Morph was killed way back in the pilot. Thankfully, everyone involved seems to realize that if anyone stopped to think about this setup for more than, like, two seconds, it would make zero sense, so the wall explodes and the X-Men are standing on the other side of it in their pre-fight poses, ready to take on the Holograms.
It is now Fight Scene O'Clock (or, to be honest, a little closer to Fight Scene Thirty), and the main thing to note here is that the Nasty Boys push the show right to Critical Mass for terrible accents.
After the X-Men take out the Nasty Boys, Sinister starts blasting them with energy from his fingertips (so... I guess that's his power?), leaving Cyclops to convince Morph to turn on Sinister and help the X-Men once again. Fortunately, this is accomplished with exactly one sentence, but it doesn't work out. Morph takes a shot, and while Sinister momentarily has a nice-sized hole where his kidneys should be, but it heals up almost immediately. So I guess that's his power.
At this point, Cyclops has been strapped to a table for the past fifteen minutes, and it's finally time for him to enter the fight. I imagine that Edens might've been a little stumped by how to get him there, though, since he and Jean are both wearing inhibitor collars and they can't use their powers to escape, or even to help each other. If Cyclops could just break through the metal restraints holding him down, it would move things along a lot quicker, but for that to make any kind of sense at all, Cyclops would have to have super-strength of some kind.
So I guess Cyclops has super-strength now.
Yup. Cyclops just cold snaps his restraints and then pulls off the inhibitor collar with one hand. Then he frees Jean and blasts Sinister (also in the kidney), poking a hole full of inexplicable green sludge in his torso.
Up to this point, I was pretty disappointed with how this episode had gone so far, but now... now, my friends, we have gotten to the point where Cyclops is going to attempt trash-talk. And it is amazing.
"So ya like playing God with mutants' lives! Well just... Keep away from my friends!"
The awkward pause is in there and everything. Scott Summers, fearless leader of the X-Men, letting this murderous villain know that he can keep playing God with mutants' lives, just not with these specific six people that he lives with. And for the kicker, he mumbles "go ahead... run! I'll be watching for you!" as Mr. Sinister flies away. Instead of, you know, chasing after him. But know this, Mr. Sinister! He'll hunt you down to the ends of the lawn!
Sadly, Cyclops is too busy complaining about not being married in the eyes of the church to stop Sinister, or to keep Morph from flying off in one of their million-dollar fighter jets, but I guess you can't win 'em all. Or any of them, in his case.
Finally, we shift to Antarctica, where Professor X (hanging out on an actual iceberg in a short-sleeved shirt) meets up with Magneto to discuss his distress call. But what's this?! In a twist straight out of a RomCom, they each thought the other sent the message! And then they're buried under an avalanche!
That happens in RomComs too, just not as often.
Discussion Question: Aside from Cyclops continuing to be the world's most aggressively passive superhero, my favorite part of this episode was definitely the Super-Adaptoid flashback. So in honor of that, what's your favorite instance of the X-Men fighting a non-X-Men villain? I mean, listen, we all know it's Dracula, but you can try to figure out who gets second place.
Next Week: Our roll call of hilariously complicated villains continues with the Shadow King!